BTC Racing’s Josh Cook secured a commanding lights-to-flag victory in the opening Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship race at Croft, holding off a determined effort from MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square’s Jake Hill.
Cook held the lead from pole position off the line, whilst Hill’s Honda briefly lost out to the fast-starting BMW 3 Series of Colin Turkington. Hill hung on around the outside at Clervaux before impressively tucking back in ahead of Team BMW’s Turkington prior to the wriggle through Hawthorn Bend.
Hill and Cook went side-by-side on occasion, as well as trading fastest laps, but the latter held on to claim a hugely deserved victory as the lead duo pulled clear of Turkington.
“It’s always the aim but it’s definitely not easy; that was a tough race!” admitted Cook. “I almost dropped it quite a few times actually, so I was lucky to bring it back. Obviously Jake [Hill] was adding a lot of pressure, but I’m just pleased to bring it home in P1 for the guys at BTC Racing.
“It was fairly damp out the back and I was pretty brave in the engineer’s office – turns out you’ve got to back that up on circuit. But that was not easy, I’ll probably tone it down a little bit for the next race, I think. I’ve probably had about five years knocked off my life expectancy after that race!
“Obviously we spent a lot of last year carrying weight, so we’ve got a decent amount of data. But the guys behind, Colin [Turkington] and Ash [Sutton], are going to be taking some weight out. So I’m just going to get my elbows out, make it as wide as possible and I think it’ll be another race of just trying to keep everyone behind me and bring home the win.”
Turkington’s podium promise was made slightly easier following early contact between two fellow title rivals, as Rory Butcher’s Ford got into the back of Ash Sutton’s Infiniti.
Sutton’s Laser Tools Racing machine had already taken a nibble out of Turkington’s BMW on the opening lap, before Butcher sliced his Motorbase Performance car down the inside of Tom Oliphant’s BMW on the penultimate turn. Such was the bunched up nature of the quartet that Butcher’s move by Oliphant led to the latter making contact with Sutton’s rear – spinning the #116 around in the process.
Butcher importantly held on to fourth at the finish, whilst Sutton impressively snatched fifth, despite dropping to 13th following the aforementioned incident.
Sutton is one of the most exciting drivers to watch and the 26-year-old put on a show as he charged back through the order, often making moves at the final hairpin, and he was further rewarded post-race when stewards reversed his and Butcher’s due to the race one clash.
Tom Chilton made it a double celebration for BTC Racing with sixth, ahead of Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal.
Bobby Thompson produced arguably the best performance of his BTCC career so far as he claimed eighth in the Trade Price Cars-run Audi S3. Whilst not the best overall result for the Essex-driver, he was able to run in a pack that included several multiple race winners and BTCC champions – boding well for the rest of his afternoon in North Yorkshire.
Adam Morgan made progress in the drying conditions to take ninth in the Ciceley Motorsport-run Mercedes, whilst Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Dan Cammish completed the top ten – not necessarily having made the inroads he was hoping for.
Tom Ingram bounced back from his pole position disappointment yesterday to grab an encouraging 13th at the finish. The Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters driver had set the fastest lap time during qualifying, only to be sent to the back of the grid when his Toyota Corolla failed post-session ride height checks. From 25th, the Bucks ace improved 12 positions during the course of the opening contest.
2020 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Race 1 – Croft
1 Josh COOK (GBR) BTC Racing 15 laps
2 Jake HILL (GBR) MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square +0.653s
3 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +3.573s
4 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +10.348s
5 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) Motorbase Performance +10.592s
6 Tom CHILTON (GBR) BTC Racing +13.245s
7 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +13.436s
8 Bobby THOMPSON (GBR) GKR TradePriceCars.com +16.909s
9 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Carlube TripleR Racing with Mac Tools +17.248s
10 Dan CAMMISH (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +17.663s
11 Tom OLIPHANT (GBR) Team BMW +17.890s
12 Chris SMILEY (GBR) Excelr8 Motorsport +21.148s
13 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters +21.553s
14 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) Motorbase Performance +23.441s
15 Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team Parker Racing +23.748s
16 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +25.347s
17 Jack GOFF (GBR) RCIB Insurance with Fox Transport +27.187s
18 Senna PROCTOR (GBR) Excelr8 Motorsport +27.663s
19 Mike BUSHELL (GBR) RCIB Insurance with Fox Transport +28.220s
20 Carl BOARDLEY (GBR) HUB Financial Solutions with Team HARD +40.219s
21 Andy NEATE (GBR) Motorbase Performance +55.454s
22 Michael CREES (GBR) The Clever Baggers with BTC Racing +1 lap
23 Jack BUTEL (GBR) Carlube TripleR Racing with Mac Tools +4 laps 24 Nicolas HAMILTON (GBR) ROKiT Racing with Team HARD +9 laps
25 Sam OSBORNE (GBR) MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square +11 laps